March 21, 2014
Stella Peshlakai speaks about her family history at the Wupatki National Monument, Ariz. The Peshlakai descendants are fighting to gain residency rights on land their ancestors settled before the creation of the monument. Decades before an expanse of grassland and pueblo ruins in northern Arizona was declared a national monument, it was home to hundreds of Navajo who lived amid the sandstone rocks, canyons and scrub brush. As they left the land over the years, Peshlakai became the sole Navajo tenant.
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WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT, Ariz. — Before an expanse of grassland and pueblo ruins in northern Arizona was declared a national monument, it was home to hundreds of Navajos whose ancestors returned to settle the area after a forced march to an eastern New Mexico internment camp. Slowly, the Navajo families left Wupatki National Monument too, either voluntarily or under pressure by the National Park Service, which sought to eliminate private use of the public land it managed. Only one Navajo woman remains.